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Archive for March, 2013

This morning I had the privilege of preaching on the subject of conversion. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Biblical conversion is God-enabled turning from sin and self and trusting Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

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The apostle John wrote:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

The Lord Jesus Christ gave John a vision of heaven and those who would be gathered around the throne worshiping God. Who’s there? People whom God has redeemed from every nation, all tribes and peoples and languages. How many are there? A huge number that no one could count. When did God save all of those people? In time, space, and history. In other words, He didn’t save them after they got to heaven, but during their lifetime here on earth.

Is there any reason to believe that God will redeem one and only person from every nation, tribe, people, and language, and then announce His job is finished and the curtain on history can finally come down? I don’t think so. Is there any reason to believe there won’t be millions or even billions of people converted to faith in Christ before the end comes? I don’t think so. Remember, we’re dealing with God here – the One with whom nothing is impossible!

As far as I’m concerned, that’s cause for optimism! God will continue to redeem a people for Himself and build His kingdom, and He will be victorious!

 

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The apostle John described the scene in heaven in Revelation 4 as follows:

“And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.’ And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created'” (vv. 8-11, emphasis added).

Out of this amazing outpouring of worship to God, something leaps off the page – the twenty-four elders, whoever they may be, take their crowns and cast them  back to God who sits upon His throne. Most likely the crowns are the rewards they had earned by their obedience to God according to several passages in the New Testament. As they worshiped God around his throne in heaven, they took the rewards they had earned – and that God had given them – and gave them back to Him. Amazing!

But why did they do it? Yes, they earned those crowns, but they realized something crucial – the only reason they could obey God (or love Him or praise Him or glorify Him) is because He was gracious to them and gave them the ability to do it in the first place. In reality, God didn’t owe them any rewards, and the rewards He gave them were because of His grace alone.

The only One worthy of a crown is God Himself. The twenty-four elders knew it, and I need to learn it. He is worthy and I’m not.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Matthew 7:1-6 on the subject of judging. A one-sentence summary of my sermon is as follows: Living in the fear of God, we must judge rightly and avoid the extremes of judgmentalism on one hand and being undiscerning on the other.

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On a recent “Happiness Hour” on his radio program, Dennis Prager made the point that in order to be happy, we have to realize that everything has a price. Once we know the price, we have to ask ourselves if we’re willing to pay it.

Moving to another city to take a job has a price. We may leave a church we’ve loved and been part of (and may have a difficult time finding another one). We’ll be farther away from our extended family. We’ll disrupt our own family life with a move. We’ll need to find and make new friends and develop a new routine in the new city. The job will have to be settled into. We deceive ourselves when we think there will no price to pay and that everything will turn out “just fine.” The job may pay more a look great, but are we willing to pay that price? On the other hand, looking for jobs in only one geographical area will limit your possibilities.

There is a price to having children, and not having them. There is a price to going on a diet, and a price for eating whatever you want whenever you want. There is a price to be paid for achieving excellence as a musician. There is a price to be paid in order to become a world-class athlete.

Not surprisingly, there is a price for being a disciple of Jesus Christ, too. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26) Are we willing to pay the price?

There are consequences to everything – a price tag, in other words. If we don’t realize that, happiness will elude us.

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